Second draft of e-commerce policy manages to please almost everyone

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In contrast to the leaked first draft that had drawn much flak, the latest e-commerce draft policy released on Saturday has found many takers. From firms like Snapdeal to even trader bodies including Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), all have given their stamp of approval.

Gurugram-based Snapdeal said the draft policy’s categorical rejection of inventory based e-commerce model must be followed by effective implementation of FDI norms to ensure marketplaces do not own or control inventory, directly or indirectly. 

“The recognition of data as a strategic national asset is well-timed and will lead to the development of required regulation in this regard,” said the company’s spokesperson.

Last year, the unreleased draft was heavily criticised for being one-sided and slanted towards e-commerce players such as Paytm, Ola and Snapdeal. Many stakeholders, including international investors such as SoftBank, had raised concerns. Finally, the draft was junked and never released for public consultation. Even organisations such as CAIT had raised concerns on the issue claiming it would have adverse effects on offline businesses. 

Walmart-owned Flipkart plans to give its comments as the government at the moment is seeking consultation on the draft policy. 

“We are going through the draft, which has been just released for comments and will be sharing our inputs in due course. We look forward to working with the government and other stakeholders in developing this nascent sector, making India a competitive economy and driving greater benefits to consumers, farmers, small suppliers, infrastructure development and innovation,” said Rajneesh Kumar, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of the Flipkart Group.

Amazon India said it is studying the draft policy and will provide inputs during the public review period. 

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“We look forward to an enabling policy to serve over 450,000 sellers and a policy that will allow us to scale up our logistics network, create new jobs and infrastructure, digitise payments and delight our customers,” the company said in a statement.

Even trader organisations that have for long demanded a level-playing field for offline businesses, said the draft e-commerce policy “looks to be innovative and good”. However, they do believe that several things have been left out that need to be addressed.

“Some red herrings need to be changed. First thing’s first, this policy is putting everything on the Standing Group of Secretaries and DPIIT. Instead, this should be through a committee headed by representatives of various stakeholders, so that the workings are answerable to the people and Parliament. The e-commerce policy should provide substantial platform for business. The policy seems to be silent on domestic e-commerce players that is undesirable. They should also be brought under the policy,” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of CAIT.

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